TheReligionofPeace.com
Guide to Understanding Islam

 

 

What does the
Religion of Peace
Teach About...

Rape

 
 


(Note: See also
Did Muhammad Approve of Rape?)

Question:

Why are rape victims often punished by Islamic courts as adulterers? 


Summary Answer
:

Under Islamic law, rape can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if there are four male witnesses.  Women who allege rape without the benefit of the act having been witnessed by four men who subsequently develop a conscience are actually confessing to having sex.  If they or the accused happens to be married, then it is considered to be adultery.
 


The Qur'an:

Qur'an (2:282) - Establishes that a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man's in court (there is no "he said/she said" gridlock in Islam).

Qur'an (24:4) - "And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses (to adultery), flog them..."  Strictly speaking, this verse addresses adultery (revealed at the very time that Muhammad's favorite wife was being accused of adultery on the basis of only three witnesses coincidentally enough).  However it is a part of the theological underpinning of the Sharia rule on rape, since if there are not four male witnesses, the rape "did not occur".

Qur'an (24:13) - "Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah."

Qur'an (2:223) - "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will..."  There is no such thing as rape in marriage, as a man is permitted unrestricted sexual access to his wives.


From the Hadith:

 

Bukhari (5:59:462) - The background for the Qur'anic requirement of four witnesses to adultery.  Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of cheating [on her polygamous husband].  Three witnesses corroborated the event, but Muhammad apparently did not want to believe it, and so established the arbitrary rule that four witnesses are required.

 


Additional Notes:

Rape of Muslim women is against Islamic law - although the rape of non-Muslim women is not, if they are 'captured in battle' or bought as slaves.  Even the rape of a Muslim woman is almost impossible to prove under strict Islamic law (Sharia).  If the man claims that the act was consensual sex, there is very little that the woman can do to refute this.  Islam places the burden of avoiding sexual encounters of any sort on the woman.

 

A recent fatwa from a mainstream Islamic site echoes this rule and even chides a victim of incest for complaining when she has no "evidence":

Since it is incredibly unlikely that a child molester will violate his victim in front of "four trustworthy men", Islamic law amounts to a free pass for sexual predators.

 

Islamic law rejects forensic evidence (such as DNA) in favor of testimony.  An interesting situation thus sometimes develops in cases where a victim alleges rape and the man denies that sex even took place.  In the absence of four male witnesses, rape cannot be proven.  The woman's testimony then becomes a "confession" of adultery.  She can be stoned, even though the male is unpunished, since he never "confessed" to a sexual act!

 

Some clerics blame rape on the woman.  Australian Sheik Feiz recently said a rape victim "has no one to blame but herself.  She displayed her beauty to the entire world... to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature."

 

One of the world's most respected Sunni scholars, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, recently told an audience on his al-Jazeera television show that "To be absolved from guilt, the raped woman must have shown some sort of good conduct."

 

In 2013, Syria's chief Mufti, Sheikh Abd al-Rahman Ali al-Dala, issued a statement that gives soldiers religious permission to rape the women they capture.

 

Also, there can be no such thing as rape in marriage, even if the husband has to hit the wife in order to bring about her submission.  Another recent fatwa reminds a woman, she "does not have the right to refuse her husband, rather she must respond to his request every time he calls her." (Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 33597).

 

Keep in mind that most Muslim countries do not operate under strict Islamic law, but rather under legal codes imported from the West.  Therefore rape victims in these countries can and often do receive justice under more reasonable standards of proof.

 

(See also Did Muhammad Approve of Rape?)

 

 

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